Preview: Learning from Experience; My Biggest Disaster and What it Taught Me by Jane Ahlfeld

Although it never became a disaster, I do remember a day when I pushed the limits a bit and was using a little luck to get back safely. Teaching sailing on the coast of Maine can produce some challenges, one of the biggest being fog. It was my third week in a row where the fog was keepig us close to the anchorage without an opportunity to get out amongst the islands. With WoodenBoat School courses that are only a week long, I always want to provide the students a variety of experiences and scenery. This was an all women’s class, and on this particular day the fog had scaled up enough to have 2-mile visibility, so as we got out into Eggemoggin Reach, I felt it was okay to make the break and try to circumnavigate the two Babson islands—a course I had done many times. We had three Herreshoff 12 1/2s in the group, and I was on the only boat that had an instructor (me), although the students were becoming good at sailing. What developed, however, was a challenge beyond their skill. Tailing us for safety was a chase boat with the school’s waterfront staff aboard. Each boat had a VHF radio, a lesson learned years before when one of our boats got lost in the fog due to a compass malfunction. (Luckily that lost boat met up with a passing yacht that did have a VHF and hence we were able to connect and get them back home.)

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2 Responses So Far to “Learning from Experience; My Biggest Disaster and What it Taught Me by Jane Ahlfeld

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    Charles Zimmermann says:

    At least once a year, go out in a boat equipped with an AIS Class B transponder, preferably at a time and place when you really want to know who else is out there. This may help to put the situation in perspective.

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    Warren A. Wheaton says:

    The new electronics truly are wonderful aids in so many ways. However, they can leave us high and dry when they die or get flooky having taken us to a place we might not have gone if we did not have them to start with. It might be a good idea to back these new assets up with some dead-reckoning and common sense.